Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is an uncomfortable sensation in the legs that appears at rest or at bedtime. It creates an irresistible urge to move the legs. When the legs are moved, this sensation is temporarily relieved. RLS is a problem because it prevents people from falling asleep and the uncomfortable sensation can cause a great deal of distress.

Who Gets Restless Legs Syndrome?

Anyone can have it at any age. It is estimated to occur in up to 1 in 10 adults in the United States. In some people it is inherited and in some it occurs spontaneously. Nobody knows why it occurs but it is believed to be due to a problem with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nervous system. Up to 80% of people with RLS also have a separate but related disorder call Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (leg kicking that usually occurs after the person has fallen asleep).

How Is RLS Treated?

In a small number of patients, correcting iron levels can help with RLS. Behavioral methods like hot baths and relaxation methods may also be effective. Many patients require a medication. The FDA recently approved a medication called Requip, which has been clinically proven to help relieve the symptoms of RLS. Many other classes of medications can also be helpful including benzodiazepines, other Parkinsons Disease medications, seizure medications, and narcotics. Ask your doctor about what option is right for you.